Throwback Thursday by Matson Insurance: ‘Remember When Girls Wore Bloomers?’

bloomerscropJEFFERSON CO., Pa. (EYT) – Matson Insurance is partnering with Jefferson County History Center to offer readers a look in Jefferson County’s past. Today “Remember When Girls Wore Bloomers?” is being showcased.

[Pictured above: These “uniforms” were certainly not as enabling as the sleek uniforms girls wear today. (Courtesy Brookville Heritage Trust)]


Basketball originated in Massachusetts in 1891 when Canadian James Naismith compiled the rules for the boys at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. By the next year, the girls at Smith College were playing the game, too. So how long did it take this new sport to reach rural Jefferson County?

Some pictures in the Knapp Collection were dated, the earliest being 1906 for both boys and girls basketball teams. The girls’ dark bloomers reached their knees and their tops had sleeves. The boys’ uniforms bared both arms and legs. A 1906 Jeffersonian Democrat item anticipated a January trip for both teams to play the teams at “Beechwoods” or Washington Township Vocational School, all part of the “recently organized Jefferson County high school league for championship honors.” Two years earlier the boys had traveled to Beechwoods too, but then there was nary a mention of the girls.

Brookville students produced a periodical called The Periscope. In one issue, they wrote about the boys’ basketball games. In fact, the 1920 spring issue lists all ten games, then adds “thus far the girls team has played but three games, two with Clar-ion and one with Corsica,” and continues, “But for the work of Darr as forward the game would have smelled very badly.” Now, my mother-in-law did tell me once she’d played basketball in bloomers as a BHS student, but she didn’t tell me she was the second-stringer who made the team look pretty good on at least one occasion!

Girls continued to play, but not as extensively as the boys. The 1927 Echo explained that “during the mid-part of each school term, a short period of time is devoted to a girls’ inter-class basketball tournament,” and included photographs of the girls wearing light-colored middies, ties, and bloomers. The Junior girls won the title that year. When the new gym opened in 1929, it was “hoped that in the future we will have a girls’ varsity.” However, the earlier Jefferson County High School league seemed to have faded from view for only the Girl’s Interclass Basketball games are mentioned.

Copyright©Jefferson County Historical Society, Inc. 2010

Throwback Thursday is brought to you by Matson Insurance in Brookville.


Submitted by the Jefferson County History Center.

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